Sensitive Santa for Special Kids: Coming to a Town Near You…

autism-speaks-sensitive-santa logoBack in 2010 when I first wrote about the Sensitive Santa visiting time at some malls in Southern California it was a very new idea. I am so happy to report that now these experiences are becoming widely available around the world. Along with Sensory Friendly Films by AMC as well as concerts and plays, individuals with autism can now begin to expand their social experiences in a comfortable setting.

Gentle or Sensitive screenings and performances usually have lower sound levels because many people (of all ages) are bothered by loud music or voices. Lighting – or lack of lighting – can also be a challenge for sensory challenged folks so those levels are also adjusted. Limiting the tickets offered also controls the crowds, which can be overwhelming for folks with special needs and their caregivers.

As I write this a Google search has yielded 117 MILLION results for “sensitive santa” from places like Toronto, Arizona, Georgia, Minnesota – and those are all just on the first page! If you are looking for one in your area, many of these events are offered through local autism groups.

The recent meeting of Pope Francis with families affected by autism has also opened up Santa for sensitive babiesthe discussion about religious practices and studies and special needs kids. In some parts of the world people who are different are treated with scorn and hidden in shame, but more modern societies are finding ways to welcome all abilities into the fold.

Whether it is visiting Santa, lighting the Menorah or gathering together to watch a holiday special or read a special book, these traditions help build relationships and create special memories for everyone involved.

Photo credit: LyraWhite; CC license

About the Author

Rosie Reeves is a writer and mother of three; including one with special needs. She works side-by-side with her daughter’s therapists, teachers and doctors. Rosie has also served as the Los Angeles Special Needs Kids Examiner. She can be reached at Rosie is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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